Playing It Safe

A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
14 Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
15 Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”     Luke 12:13-15 (CEV)

Lectionary texts: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23, Psalm 49:1-12, Colossians 3: 1-11, Luke 12:13-21

Many, if not most of us, grew up in a middle class home. We had one or two parents who worked and provided us with food, shelter, education and more than the necessities to more than survive in this life. Maybe you had a “season” like I did when I was pretty young. My father was a truck driver and was laid off work for about year. My mother who had been a stay-at-home mom went to work as a sales clerk at a local retail store. It was a difficult year for my parents, though I wasn’t aware of the day-to-day cares. It was weird having Dad at home all the time but other than having a few “interesting” lunches, it was OK. Christmas that year was – not much. My mother made some clothes for my doll and I was happy with that but I suspect my looking for “more” did bring a tear to my parents’ eyes because there just wasn’t money for more.

My upbringing brought me into adulthood expecting that whatever I might need would be obtained. I went into my first marriage with little thought to ideas like budget or separating wants from needs. If there wasn’t enough money from our two jobs, well, we got a credit card – or two.

When I first read Matthew 6 about storing up my treasures, it cut right to my heart. I am grateful now because it prepared me for a time in my life, after I was divorced, to understand that neither I nor my children needed all that we thought we did. And the week without electricity – we survived it with only a bruise to our egos. Since then there have been several times that I had $25 for a week’s groceries and my son and I haven’t seen each other except on Skype in three years because there isn’t money to travel across the country. Is it hard sometimes? Yes, it is. Do I question God about it all? Yes, I do. But then I begin to think about what I do have. My husband and I and our children and their spouses and children love and know the LORD. We will all be together for eternity. It really doesn’t get better than that! I have finally learned what will keep me and my family safe. It is a relationship to God.

What makes us feel safe? Is it having money in the bank or an IRA? Is it having a full-time job? Is it having a home and car debt-free? The scenarios in which all of those can be gone in a moment are numerous. Nothing in or from this life is a sure, safe thing. It is the intangibles like faith, trust, love, hope, and mercy that promise more than we can imagine. In the intangibles I will find safety from all that this world may throw at me. Will they prevent pain and suffering? No, of course not. But with God I can live through all things; live well.

You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side. 2 Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth.3 You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God.4 Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory.

5 Don’t be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don’t be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don’t be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols. 6 God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things. 7 And that is exactly what you did, when you lived among people who behaved in this way. 8 But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. 9 And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.

10 Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. 11 It doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient.13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.14 Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.    Colossians 3:1-14 (CEV)

Count Your Blessings written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney



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